Every year, we see more and more Hanukkah books for children. The children's Hanukkah books below emphasize the importance of this Jewish holiday, family activities during Hanukkah, folktales about Hanukkah, the history of Hanukkah, and sharing Hanukkah with friends and neighbors. The children's Hanukkah books include an excellent anthology, engaging Chanukah picture books, a book of poetry and history, and a chapter book. There are books for preschoolers to middle schoolers.
Celebrate Hanukkah is part of the Holidays Around the World series published by the National Geographic Society. The striking photographs show Jewish children all over the world, including Italy, Poland, Ghana, India and Israel, celebrating Hanukkah. Author Deborah Heiligman provides information about the symbols, history and celebration of Hanukkah. At the end of the book are several pages of additional resources. I recommend Celebrate Hanukkah for all ages. Published in 2006, the book's ISBN is 0792259246. Compare prices. Read my review of Celebrate Hanukkah.
If you are looking for a picture books that stresses the joy of a family's Hanukkah celebration, I recommend Hanukkah Haiku This story of a family's activities and Hanukkah rituals is told in haiku poetry by Harriet Ziefert, accompanied by exuberant illustrations by Karla Gudeon. This is a good book for 3- to 6-year-olds. Blue Apple Books published Hanukkah Haiku in 2008. The ISBN is 9781934706336. (Blue Apple Books.) Read my review of Hanukkah Haiku.
Trisha and Richard's grandparents, who are from the Ukraine and Soviet Russia, and their mother are living on a farm in the 1930s. They are enjoying their own Hanukkah preparations when they discover their Christian neighbors are too sick to cut and decorate their Christmas trees. They do it for them. Their neighbors thank them with a carved menorah. This heartwarming tale by Patricia Polacco is a family favorite.(Aladdin Reprint, 2000. ISBN: 9780689838576) Compare prices.
Zigazak by Eric A. Kimmel is a rollicking and wise picture book that will appeal to both children and adults. The humorous illustrations by Jon Goodell definitely add to the fun. When two devils (see the book's cover) fly into the town of Brisk during Hanukkah, they wreak havoc in several households by making dreidels sprout arms and legs and dance, latkes fly and candles explode. Not until the wise rabbi gets involved do things settle down as he helps everyone understand that they don't need to be afraid and that "sparks of holiness exist in all things, even in devils' tricks." (Doubleday, An Imprint of Random House Children's Books, 2001. ISBN: 9780385326520) Compare prices.
This picture book was written by Linda Glaser, with cheerful artwork by Nancy Cote. Rachel's family is preparing for an evening of latkes with guests. Every year, they invite their elderly neighbor to come, but she stubbornly refuses. This year, Rachel is even more stubborn, and the little girl cleverly comes up with a way to get her involved. I recommend this book for four to eight year-olds. (Albert Whitman & Co., 1997. ISBN: 9780807508428) Compare prices.
This chapter book is both funny and heartwarming. Fourth grader Marla Feinstein, the only Jewish student in her class, is feeling aggravated. All her friends are getting ready for Christmas. Her dad is out of town, and her family has never done much about Hanukkah. Once Marla decides to find out what Hanukkah is all about, thing change rapidly. This is a good book for seven- to ten-year-old independent readers. Check your public library for a copy. (Penguin Putnam, 2000. ISBN: 9780141309828)
This picture book for ages 3-7 was written by Michael L. Rosen and illustrated by Melissa Iwai. A little boy and his family celebrate the Festival of Lights in their home in the city. Each night something happens to remind him of the number of candles they have just lit. This is a nice introduction to the family celebration of Chanukah for a small child. (Sandpiper, 2006. ISBN: 9780152056759) Compare prices.
This picture book by master storyteller Eric Kimmel, with its dramatic pen and watercolor illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman, is excellent. It’s the entertaining story of how Hershel of Ostnopol saves Hanukkah for an entire village by tricking the scary goblins who have been haunting the old synagogue and preventing the villagers from celebrating Hanukkah. In an afterword, the author explains the meanings of Hanukkah, menorah, dreidel, and latkes. This book is a read-aloud the whole family will enjoy. (Holiday House, 1989. ISBN: 9780823407699) Compare prices.
The stepped page format of this picture book by Seymour Chawast will intrigue four- to eight-year-olds. The story of Hanukkah begins with the looting and takeover of the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem, devotes several pages to the fight of the Macabees to reclaim the Temple, and ends with the restoration fo the Temple and the first Hanukkah celebration. (Blue Apple Books, distributed by Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN: 9781609051389) Compare prices.
This is a wonderful collection of more than two dozen poems, stories, songs, Jewish history, and recipes. The book was edited by Eric Kimmel, who also wrote many of the sections. The colorful and exuberant illustrations by Emily Lisker create a feeling of celebration. This is an excellent book for children of all ages. (Henry Holt and Co., 1998. ISBN: 9780805052930) Compare prices.